Sunday, July 30, is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). Mass Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46

Sunday’s readings speak of three ways we can get the Kingdom of God: by “good luck,” through great expense and through hard work. Which way did you find your faith?

First, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again,” Jesus says in the Gospel, “and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This is what the world calls “luck” and what Christians call “blessing.” In the same way, Solomon experiences this in the first reading, when he stumbles upon a great blessing.

He is given a chance to ask God for anything, and God is pleased when he asks for wisdom. God makes him so wise that no one will equal him.

But think of it: Many of us have had similar blessings.

Those of us who were born into a Catholic family received baptism for free, complete with the wisdom and understanding that are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The second way to get the Kingdom of God, Jesus says, is by paying a lot for it. A merchant finds a pearl of great price, and he “goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

This is like today’s second reading. St. Paul describes how the Father chose us “to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” God is the merchant who saw each of us as a pearl of great price and went and gave everything away for us.

The third way to get the Kingdom of God is through hard work.

Jesus last compares the kingdom to “a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full, they haul it ashore.”

This is how it is in our Christian life, too: God fills the net, but we must haul it to shore.

God gives us the grace, but we have to be attentive to it, encourage it, live a life worthy of keeping it; and watch and pray.

We know that Solomon, despite his great “luck” in being given the gift of wisdom, failed to live up to it.

And we know that St. Paul in the same letter wrote about how hard it is to break free from the slavery of sin.

So we should be thankful for the blessing of our faith and the price that was paid for it — and put in the effort to haul it in, so that we will see it through to the end.

Tom Hoopes is writer

in residence at

Benedictine College and

author of The Fatima Family Handbook.